And here we go! After two weeks of getting mentally prepared for the biggest Gopher home game since 2003, it is finally here. #4 Penn State comes to TCF Bank Stadium to face undefeated and #17 Minnesota. A huge Big Ten game with plenty of post season implications. Penn State is quite easily the most talented team the Gophers will face all season. Can they pull off the upset and put themselves into the driver’s seat for the Rose Bowl?
- Big plays may determine the outcome - Both teams have had their share of big plays on offense, but limiting Penn State’s big plays is my absolute number 1 key for this game. Joe Rossi’s defense has given up only 12 plays of 25 yards or more this season Penn State has had 31 plays of 25 yards or more (11 of those were for a touchdown). Must absolutely limit the big plays.
- Turnovers - We all know that the ball is the program and it a massive game like this, you absolutely have to win the turnover battle. PSU is +7 for the season while Minnesota is +5. Getting short field or getting a defensive touchdown will go a long way to winning for someone.
- Special Teams - We haven’t talked all that much about it here, but our special teams has not been very good this year. In games where you are dominating or playing against an inferior opponent, you can get away with weak special teams. But in a game like today’s, special teams could put you over the top (or cause you to come up short). Need some help here today.
OPPOSING PLAYERS TO WATCH
- #1 WR - KJ Hamler - Dangerous and capable of breaking a huge play every time he gets the ball. This guy must be contained.
- #99 DE - Yetur Gross-Matos - He isn’t their only good pass rusher, but he’s very good. Watch out for #99!
The two week anticipation and slow-burn is finally ending. We get to experience this elite game. Obviously Penn State is favored and a very talented team. I do believe Minnesota is also very talented and I really like the mental toughness of this Gopher team.
With that said, I am going to suggest that officially I think Penn State wins this game. It is close but Penn State scores a late touchdown to make it a two score game. The Gophers move on from this and must rebound at Iowa next week.
Minnesota - 21
Penn State - 31